Exploring dreamscapes with Kyle Freeland of Vacant Mind
Michigan based, electronic dreamscape musician, Kyle Freeland, produces rich environments of sound with minimal equipment. This music aficionado is self taught in the ways to manipulate sounds to create emotions through music. With some prompting from his brother and the help of the internet, Kyle's music has a rather large listening base on the music sharing sites Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Kyle describes how he is taking the next step to collaborate with other musicians and make his melodic dreamscapes his lifestyle.
When did you start producing music?
My brothers are who really got me into music. Big time.
Maybe 2006 was when I really started recording. That was with the cheapest equipment that I could possibly get my hands on. I actually used an FM transmitter you can use for your car stereo. The kind you can listen to your own CDs...I was plugging that to the back of my piano. That was how I was recording for 2 years. I was only able to dub two instruments. I could only have a piano and something else I would change off the keyboard to have a different feel. Back then I was recording under the name Secret Weapon which was technically my first project. It was a band my brother AJ kind of made overnight. After recording under Secret Weapon for about 2 years I joined the military. I stopped playing music for a while. In 2011 I started recording under Vacant Mind.
How did you decide on placing your music online?
I was honestly just recording for fun. I never thought anyone would ever listen to my stuff. I never even thought about putting it online until someone mentioned Soundcloud. That kind of changed things for me. That didn't start until I moved to Washington D.C.. My brother, Brian, pushed me to start posting my work online. Since then I've been putting a track on about every other week.
Can you describe a bit of your creation process?
I don't want to make songs about one certain thing, like a whole album about breakups or [something] more uplifting. The song I make up that day is kind of how I feel that day.
When I sit down to make something, I typically have no idea at all. It is influenced by what [music] I am listening to. I'm a super music nerd. I'm always on Pitchfork, Stereogum, all of these websites trying to listen to something new. Recently, I would say my music was influenced by my love. Catching that certain attention. I've always been...not very...particular when it comes to words. I've been better at explaining it through music.
Do your chosen song titles have a personal influence?
Coming up with song titles is just as hard as producing songs themselves. Especially when it comes to instrumental music. You have to let off some kind of persona in there. What's going on in your life. But, at the same time I don't want to do that to much.
What kind of unique sounds do you use in your music?
I have a lot of music on my computer I have never put out. I'll work on something and I'll put it aside. I'll revisit it. Seems like I do that a lot. I never like to get rid of anything. Everything can be used as a sample or a weird sound. Sometimes that is what makes the coolest songs.
Using someones voice and distorting it, chopping up voices...trying to make it sound like a drum beat.
Just recently I wanted to use different programs. I've been using Fruity Loops like its my comfort program. If I want to make a song, I go to that.
Are you interested in collaborating with other musicians?
I actually have some people that are interested in working with me. Wanting to see what we can come up with. My dream is to move back to a city and try to be in a band. I have always worked solo. Back in 2011 I worked with another solo artist, [Videogamergal] on a collaborative album. I really want to collaborate with other people.
You have been typecast as a “Bedroom Musician”. Have you played live before?
I have never played live in front of strangers. [Although] I have played in front of plenty of people. I don't think I would have a problem. I want to play live really bad. Sometimes I'm playing music and I wish someone could hear and listen to this.
Do you foresee challenges in your search for collaborations?
I really don't know how to read music. Its intimidating. I just play by ear and pick up on how to play with other music. I have a certain method. I have a certain way to jump into it. It's hard to describe.
Gosh. My first album, when I finished it, was like 40 songs long. I was felt like “Do I really need that many on there?” I didn't want to leave anything out. For one, I wanted to give it out for free.
My biggest influence musically is My Bloody Valentine kind of mixed with the Boards of Canada. I always label it “Dreamtronica” my sound, sounds dreamy.
If its not recording live through my microphone, I'm programming through Fruity loops or Ableton.
When it comes to drum beats, thats what takes me so long. Programming those in. I actually went to the computer because I fell at one of my jobs and crushed my ulnar nerve. I couldn't play guitar or piano. I was going nuts. I wanted to record. That has been an outlet for me. Even if I'm not being heard I'm recording. On my computer or on a cassette tape. It kind of becomes an addiction. It really does. Really getting into that and doing it all the time. You can go months working on a project.
I loved working on this last album. It's the first time I sat down and actually worked on a song over and over and over till I got exactly the sound I wanted. I've never really done that before. Some of my songs take only 40 minutes to make. This last album I didn't. One of the songs I worked on for 6 months before I felt confident to do it online.
This last album was about a year of work before I finished all of the songs. Some of them are updates of songs I did back in 2011. I really listened to what people were saying on Soundcloud . People told me “you should extend this part” or “There seems to be something missing”. I really listen to what people say. Your fans have really good advise. That's why it took me longer for this album. I was kind of out of reach socially-wise during this album. I didn't have working internet or a phone with me. Working 10 hours a day. I wasn't able to post new songs. It was really fun to release it all online at once.
What direction do you think your life would have headed if you hadn't discovered music?
Oh my gosh. I don't know! It seems like my entire personality stems from my music. Everything I think about in some way I am thinking about music. Its an obsession. There are people that have certain hobbies...this doesn't feel like a hobby. It never felt that way to me. It always felt like a lifestyle. Since I can even remember. This is what I've always wanted to do. I've always wanted to make music. I have no idea. I don't know. I have no idea how to answer that.
What are some of the obstacles you have faced producing your music?
Like listening to Radiohead. After you've listened to them for years and years and years. You start thinking “Wow. Maybe I can do that.” Then...you start making music you feel comfortable with.
I'm a good example...of somebody that didn't have the means to make music or even know how to make music...there is still a way. I've never had a lesson. I wanted to make music I loved on my own. I love listening to my own music. I wanted to make music that others wanted to listen to but I wanted to hear. There are certain sounds and certain things...ideas.
When I make music, that is what it feels like I should be doing.
A lot of [song] titles when I started making them...they involved me being sick. Dealing with a lot of that stuff. I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping. It was nuts. I couldn't tell you how many times I've been to the E.R. Over 40 times since I've been sick. I finally went to the right doctors and they found out what was going on. Now I'm just trying to feel better. It has been a hinder on every aspect of my life. Especially music. That was such an outlet for me. A huge outlet. Being able to make music and be constructive. Have some kind of control of something. I lost relationships and friends. Nobody likes to be around someone who's sick. I'm dealing with it in my own ways. Now I'm really looking into looking into going to school for music. I don't even know what kind of thing I want to go to school for music. Like what I want to do. I want to learn it all. I could do that for the rest of my life. Go to school for music.
What kind of music influences you?
Seems like every album I've been getting into is like Alice in Wonderland. You kind of like, make your own world in every album. Dive into it, get into it, then get lost in it. Every music lover can familiarize themselves with that.
There is just one album that you obsess over. [With my music] I'm trying to recreate the boards of Canada, M83, Radiohead, and all of those things I love all into one. I will never be able to do it...but its cool to see what kind of music you can come up with. With that kind of ambition. I'm a realist. I realize those guys are legends in my mind.
Do you remember the first song you created?
Yeah. Yeah I do. It was a song on a cassette tape. But I can still play it to this day. I still remember it. I called it Highway 2006. There is a version of it on Disconnect the Past. But originally that was for piano. When I made that I was a junior in high school. Its a pretty old song.
Did you share your music back then or was it introverted?
Completely introverted. I didn't start putting stuff online until 2011 2012. Even though I was making it for like, 5 years. I can't tell you how many cassette tapes exist out there that I can't find. You wish you could go back and find that song.
There was one that my brother specifically liked that he said sounded like Mario Brothers having a beer after they beat Bowser. It's in those missing cassette tapes.
Where do you see your music headed in the future?
I want to use different equipment and work with other people. I want to work on this kind of stuff with other people that know what they are doing so I can learn from them. I imagine my music with a singer. I always have. I have it in my head with certain songs. There is one I made recently, I can almost hum it in my head. I want someone to sing. I can't sing.
I want to play live shows. That is really how people get noticed. You can't get noticed in a bedroom.
Its kind of hard making it by right now.
I am definitely wanting...to go to school for music. It's getting more involved. Its something I have always wanted to do...Always wanted to do.
What is the thing in life currently that you are the most passionate about?
I just want to make my one track and be heard.
I want to make music my life. I want to do this for a living.
Originally published on Artfoodie.com
July 10, 2015